Johnny Theakston & The Tremeloes were Mansfield’s top band in the early 1960s with roots tracing back to the days of skiffle. Dreams of a professional career meant a classier name and Shane Fenton and The Fentones was born.
Work was plentiful in and around Nottinghamshire and things were beginning to come together. Full of confidence they sent off a home recording to the BBC and were duly invited to audition for Saturday Club.
Tragedy struck however just days before the audition when Shane (Theakston) was taken ill with rheumatic fever and died two days later, he was just 17 years old.
Bernard William Jewry became the new ‘Shane Fenton’ and the audition went ahead. They passed with flying colours and eventually fixed up a recording deal with Parlophone Records where over the next couple of years they enjoyed several sizeable hits
T H E F E N T O N E S
The Mexican / Lover's Guitar
Parlophone R4899 - 1962
The Breeze And I / Just For Jerry
Parlophone R4937 - 1962
The Breeze And I (undubbed version)
See-For-Miles SFM CM102 (CD)
Mick's Tune / Gringo / Take Five
Instrumental Diamonds, Sequel Records NEXCD149 (CD)
Caravan / The Mexican
Instro Beat, Legacy Sounds UK LSCD001 - 2008 (CD)
The Fentones (Jerry Wilcock - lead guitar, Mick Eyre - rhythm, Bill Bonney - bass, and Tony Hinchcliffe - drums) obtained a record contract of their own and cut their first single on the 8th February 1962 at EMI's Abbey Road Studios.
The Mexican was the A-side and the disc managed a respectable No.41 in the charts in April 1962.
The gentler B-side, Lover's Guitar, was a complete contrast to the frantic rhythm of The Mexican and was a likeable melody that the group had discovered on Billy Mure's 1959 album 'Supersonic Guitars'.
Their next solo recording session, on the 14th August '62, produced the follow-up single The Breeze And I. It was a popular number amongst instrumentalists in '62 because both The Tornados and The Shadows had also covered the melody. Fans were delighted in the 1980s when the See-For-Miles label issued an alternate version of The Breeze And I which boasts a short acoustic guitar passage midway in the tune.
Three more titles were captured on the 14th August '62; the flip, Just For Jerry (which was written overnight after producer Ron Richards suggested they compose the flip), Mick's Tune and Duke Ellington's Caravan.
Raucus is a beaty instrumental recorded during a Shane Fenton session on 30th December 1963 and so far remains unissued. The Fentones' final Parlophone solo session came on 11th September 1962 when they taped the Santo & Johnny tune Teardrops, a Ventures track called Gringo and an ambitious attempt at the jazzy Take Five.
By the mid sixties the music scene had changed considerably and Shane and the boys went their separate ways; Fenton into pop management and the Fentones hooked up with R & B artist Duffy Power for a while.
With the 1970s came ‘Glam Rock’ and Shane emerged as Alvin Stardust, scoring several major hits including the No.1 smash, Jealous Mind.
The Fentones were pretty much out of the public eye until 1995 when Wilcock, Bonney and Hinchcliffe reunited for a one-off performance in London at the Pipeline Convention.
Whispers of a full-blown reunion and some new recordings sadly came to nothing.
Bill Bonney now lives in Canada and makes the odd CD guest appearance and occasionally performs with 'The New Fentones', Jerry Wilcock is living in the West Country but the whereabouts of Mick Eyre and Tony Hinchcliffe is unknown.
Tony Hoffman & Bill Bonney
Lover's Guitar by The Fentones